The Age of Volatile Belief

The age of volatile belief is intimately linked with the impact of the technetronic revolution on existing ideologies and outlooks on life. What man thinks is closely related to what man experiences. The relationship between the two is not causal but interacting: experience affects thought, and thought conditions the interpretation of experience.

Today the dominant pattern seems increasingly to be that of highly individualistic, unstructured, changing perspectives. Institutionalized beliefs, the result of the merger of ideas and institutions, no longer appear to many as vital and relevant, while the skepticism that has contributed so heavily to the undermining of institutionalized beliefs now clashes with the new emphasis on passion and involvement. The result for many is an era of fads, of rapidly shifting beliefs, with emotions providing for some the unifying cement previously supplied by institutions and with the faded revolutionary slogans of the past providing the needed inspiration for facing an altogether different future.

Zbigniew Brzezinski – Between Two Ages. America’s Role in the Technetronic Era

Sticks

There is no point in talking to someone who seriously claims that he doubts everything, as he is not a man. He is, as Aristotle expressed, similar to the trunk (φυτού ὅμοιος). He is not fit to become a philosopher. He is rather teasing for the sake of teasing. Jewish philosopher, Saadija Fajjumi from the tenth century, in his work “Knowledge of faith and philosophy” advises to starve such men and beat them with sticks until they acknowledge that they consciously and definitely feel hunger and pain. Truly that is an effective means to bring them to repentance.

Franciszek Kwiatkowski – Perennial philosophy

Demythologizing

Some therorize about the end of philosophy because they have lost the meaning of philosophy. Philosophical problems arise and develop as an attempt to understand and explain the whole, that is, the totality of things, or at least as the problematic of the totality. Philosophy remains such if and only if it searches for the perspective of the meaning of the whole. On the contrary, the sciences have arisen as rational considerations restricted to the parts or sectors of reality. They have an elaborate methodology and technique of inquiry that changes in function of the structure of these parts, and their value resides in these parts, and hence they are not of value for the whole of reality.

But what purpose is there to philosophizing today, in a world in which science, technology, and politics seem on the whole to divide the power, in a world in which the scientist, the technocrat, the politician become the new magicians moving all the levers? The purpose, in our judgement, remains always the same for philosophy as it has from its beginning, the aim of demythologizing. The ancient myths were those of poetry, of fantasy, of imagination; the new myths are those of science, of technology, and of ideology, that is to say, the myths of power.

Certainly the task of demythologizing is more difficult today than it was with the ancients. The new myths of today are constructed by reason itself, at least in great part, since science and technology would seem to lead directly to the triumph of reason. But it is a reason that, once it has lost the meaning of the totality, the sense of the whole, risks losing even its own identity.

Giovanni Reale – Preface to A History of Ancient Philosophy

Thought 211.

We are fools to depend upon the society of our fellow-men, wretched as we are, powerless as we are, they will not aid us; we shall die alone. We should therefore act as if we were alone, and in that case should we build fine houses, etc.? We should seek the truth without hesitation; and, if we refuse it, we show that we value the esteem of men more than the search for truth.

Blaise Pascal – Pensées

Insufferable Negligence

Błażej Pascal - francuski matematyk, fizyk i religijny filozof

We know well enough how those who are of this mind behave. They believe they have made great efforts for their instruction, when they have spent a few hours in reading some book of Scripture, and have questioned some priest on the truths of the faith. After that, they boast of having made vain search in books and among men. But, verily, I will tell them what I have often said, that this negligence is insufferable. We are not here concerned with the trifling interests of some stranger, that we should treat it in this fashion; the matter concerns ourselves and our all.

Let them at least learn what is the religion they attack, before attacking it. If this religion boasted of having a clear view of God, and of possessing it open and unveiled, it would be attacking it to say that we see nothing in the world which shows it with this clearness. But since, on the contrary, it says that men are in darkness and estranged from God, that He has hidden Himself from their knowledge, that this is in fact the name which He gives Himself in the Scriptures, D e u s  a b s c o n d i t u s [Isaiah 45:15, a God who hides Himself] – what advantage can they obtain, when, in the negligence with which they make profession of being in search of the truth, they cry out that nothing reveals it to them?

Blaise Pascal – Pensées

No Proxy

What is the truth of Prophetism which lays down that God can be known only indirectly through a favourite intermediary, a ‘Sole Begotten Son’ or a ‘Last Prophet’? Indian spirituality did not argue, debate or oppose. But did it not provide a complete answer? It proclaimed that the true Godhead was beyond number and count; that it had many manifestations which did not exclude or repel each other but included each other and went together in friendship; that it was approached in different ways and through many symbols; that it resided in the heart of its devotees.

A fateful thing has been happening. The East is waking up from its slumber. The wisdom of Hinduism, Buddhism, Taoism and Confucianism is becoming available to the world. Already, it is having a transforming effect on the minds of the people, particularly in countries where there is freedom to seek and express. Dogmas are under a cloud; claims on behalf of Last Prophethood and Only Sonship, hitherto enforced through great intellectual conditioning, browbeating, and the big stick, are becoming unacceptable.

Religions of proxy are in retreat. More and more men now seek authentic experience. Borrowed creed will not do. Men and women are ceasing to be obedient believers and are becoming seekers. They no longer want to be anybody’s sheep, now that they know that they can be their own shepherds. An external authority, even when it is called God in certain scriptures, threatening and promising alternately, is increasingly making less and less impression; people now realize that Godhead is their own true, secret status and they seek it in the depth of their own being.

Ram Swarup – Hindu View of Christianity and Islam